By T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, no longer lives within the 6th Congressional District.
The Minnesota political landscape changed this afternoon (Feb. 21) with the release of a redistricting plan crafted by a five-judge, court redistricting panel.
Because the legislature failed to produce a redistricting plan, the court took on the task of sorting the state’s 5.3 million inhabitants into political units that took into account changes in population while attempting to retain shared lifestyles of people living in the area.
The court panel, in a legal brief, spoke of the need to act in a cautious manner.
In terms of congressional districts, the panel’s redrawn congressional map resembles the map that has served the state for the last ten years.
The 1st, 7th, and 8th districts largely resemble their previous shapes.
The 8th District required a small change in population — an ideal congressional district in population was determined to be about 663,000.
In the 8th, that meant adding only about 2,600 more people, the panel noted.
The court did this by altering a pre-existing split in Beltrami County.
The 8th continues to be home to a number of Native American tribes, including the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in the southern district.
In the 7th District, on the state’s western side and which was about 37,000 under populated, the court pulled the district southwest by about 25 miles.
It deemed including the City of St. Cloud to the east outside the agricultural context of the 7th.
But in the metro area — 54 percent of the state’s population lives within the seven county metro — the court faced larger challenges in terms of adjusting for population.
For instance, the 2nd Congressional District was about 69,000 residents too big.
The 6th District — Bachmann’s district with the congresswoman’s home in Stillwater — posed the largest population challenge of them all.
The district was 96,000 residents too big.
So the court panel went to work.
It added part of Carver County to the 6th — Wright County remains wholly within the district — but removed a portion of Washington County.
In public hearings, the court was overwhelmingly urged to reshape the district as not to include both St. Cloud and Stillwater and other nearby communities located on the St. Croix River, the panel noted.
In addition, residents of the east metro area extending from the St. Croix River to the city of Woodbury described their community of interest as St. Paul and its eastern suburbs, the panel notes.
Because of this, the panel decided to remove this portion from the 6th District.
Because the court pulled the 4th Congressional District to the east over this area to the state line, Bachmann, as a resident of Stillwater, currently lives a congressional district represented by six-term Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum of St. Paul.
But Bachmann has indicated that she intends to run for a fourth term in the 6th District.
“I intend to run in the 6th district,” she told the Washington publication The Hill.
“It’s essentially unchanged… I grew up in this district, went to junior high here, high school, college. Our children were born here, our business is here, our church is here,” she reportedly said.
The panel did not want to pull the 4th District to the west into the 5th Congressional District and Minneapolis — they noted St. Paul and Minneapolis have been in separate congressional district since 1891.
In the 3rd Congressional District in the western metro which was slightly under in terms of population, the panel pulled the entire city of Coon Rapids into it, noting Coon Rapids had been split before.
It also added the Carver County communities of Chanhassen and Chaska, among others, to the 3rd.
With the 2nd District — home turf of Republican Congressman John Kline of Lakeville — the panel removed the portion Carver County in the old district and used the Minnesota River to define the district’s southern border.
The redrawn 2nd peels off Le Sueur County to the south, adding that county to the 1st Congressional District.
Rice County is split with the 1st, with the 2nd gaining the whole of Wabasha County in the southeast corner.
The panel gained public input on redistricting, which it deemed “robust,” from court documents, hearings, public meetings.
“They comprise convenient, contiguous territory structured into compact units,” the panel said of its congressional redistricting plan.
The court panel, as part of its redistricting process, also reshaped the state’s 67 senate and 134 house districts.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie sent a release following the redistricting announcement noting the following:
It is important to note that neither federal nor state candidates are required to live in the district in which they will run at this point in the election cycle. Residency requirements for candidates differ depending on the office they seek.
State legislative candidates must reside in the district that they wish to represent by May 5, 2012 (six months before the election) and must be residents of the state for one year before the election (by November 5, 2011).
Candidates for Congress do not have to ever reside in the district they seek to represent. They must be residents of the state on Election Day (by November 5, 2012), but do not have to be residents of the state before this date.